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1981
Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2057-0341
  • E-ISSN: 2057-035X

Abstract

Abstract

Because musicals routinely position musical expression as an enabling form of madness, they can have a difficult time when they try to consider mental illness in thoughtful ways. This essay considers four prominent musicals that deal overtly with mental illness and/or madness to delineate these difficulties and show how musicals try to surmount them. The relatively few musical numbers in (1941) allow its protagonist Liza Elliott to both confront her mental block and give voice to her emancipation. In (1964), Hapgood's ambiguous mental status allows him to swing from absurdities to rebellion to the touchingly human, each phase differently opposing the insanities of the world. Quixote, in (1965), defies reality in favour of impossible dreams. And the songs of (2008) provide a panoply of escapes from the painful realities of the dysfunctional Goodman family, none of whom quite finds a way to a desired 'normal'. As these shows exemplify, mentally unstable women and men generally have different options in musicals: women (at least, Liza and Diana Goodman) are obliged to chart paths to mental wholeness, with decidedly mixed results, whereas men (at least, Hapgood and Quixote) are allowed to indulge their flights from reality as forms of romanticized idealism, becoming heroes and liberators in the process. exemplifies a renewed determination to take mental illness seriously in musicals, further advanced in the four-season television series Crazy .

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/content/journals/10.1386/jivs_00006_1
2019-10-01
2024-07-22
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